Adobe has made available a new RC (release candidate) version of Lightroom, numbered v.4.3. On its own, this is clearly not worth an entire blog post, or even a tweet. But there’s one new feature that you Retina MacBook Pro owners might be interested in: HiDPI support.
Display Menu is a simple yet incredibly handy little app that just hit the Mac App Store. It allows you to quickly switch display resolutions and change display settings from your Mac’s menu bar — negating the need to navigate the System Preferences options — for free.
It’s looking increasingly likely that when Tim Cook takes the stage at the annual WWDC keynote on June 11th, Apple will announce new MacBook Pros and possibly iMacs, and if the rumor mill is to be believed, these new machines won’t just be slimmer and ditch their optical drives… they’ll be the first Macs with Retina displays.
What everyone widely expects from Retina display Macs is an iPhone or iPad-style resolution doubling. So if the current 15-inch MacBook Pro has a 1,440 x 900 display, the Retina 15-inch MBP would have a 2,880 x 1800 display.
What the rumor mill is missing is that there’s no benefit to Apple handling a jump to Retina display Macs this way. The reason the iPad and iPhone going Retina was such a big deal was because they had really pixellated displays. Before the iPhone 4, the iPhone had a display that was only 53% close to being Retina. The iPad was slightly better, at 61%. Roughly, both the iPad and iPhone were only about halfway there, which made the easiest fix to just double the amount of pixels per inch.
But Apple doesn’t need to do this with its line of Macs. In fact, it’s likely that most “Retina Quality” Macs will have fewer pixels than your new iPad. Here’s why.
Want to put in perspective just how pixel dense the new iPad’s display is? On the left, an 11-inch MacBook Air, running Safari under OS X Lion. On the right, the new iPad, showing that same Safari window under OS X Lion using Air Display. It’s like a tiny 27-inch iMac!
Avatron has released a new version of its popular Air Display iOS app that allows the user to view OS X Lion in hi-res HiDPI mode on the new iPad’s Retina display. Air Display turns your iPad or iPhone into a secondary display for your Mac, and the latest update takes advantage of the new iPad’s 2048×1536 screen resolution by exploiting a super hi-resolution mode in Lion called HiDPI.
We’ve heard a lot about how the iPad 3 will finally get a 2048×1536 Retina Display, but it’s easy to forget exactly how many pixels that is. The scientific answer is “a gajillion.” Heck, when the Retina Display iPad 3 ships, it will actually pack more pixels than everything short of Apple’s 27-inch iMac!
As such, today’s report that Apple left a big reference to HiDPI mode intact in developer builds of OS X 10.7.3 isn’t a big surprise. The functionality can be seen in Finder’s “Get Info” window, and allows you to open a file or app in HiDPI mode, which (while non-functional right now) would presumably user higher-definition fonts, graphics and other UI elements. Retina Display Macs seem like a shoe-in in 2012 at this point, don’t you think?
Mac OS X Lion includes buried “HiDPI” display modes, which brings the possibility of Retina Display Macs one step closer to reality. Essentially, these display modes make user interface elements twice the resolution typically found on Macs, therefore increasing clarity and detail throughout the UI. This is exactly how the iPhone handles graphics with the Retina Display, and provides some insight into what Apple might be planning for future iterations of it’s computers. While not very practical at this point in time, it’s neat to try out. In this video, I’ll show you how to enable these HiDPI display modes in OS X Lion.